When Hannibal had investigated the revenues, how much was collected as taxes on land and as duty at the ports, for what purposes it was spent, how much the ordinary expenses of the state required, and how
much embezzlement took from the treasury, he asserted in the assembly that the state would be rich enough, if it collected the revenues not otherwise used and omitted the assessment on individual citizens, to pay its debt to the Romans, and this assertion he was able to make good.
But now the men whom embezzlement from the treasury had maintained for many years, as if they were being robbed of their property instead of being made to give up the profits of their thefts, in passion and anger tried to bring upon Hannibal the wrath of the Romans, who were themselves seeking an excuse for venting their hatred upon him.
So, although Publius Scipio Africanus resisted this tendency for a long time, urging that it was undignified for the Roman people to
become parties to the animosities of Hannibal's accusers, to lend the support of official prestige to party strife at Carthage, and, not satisfied with having [p. 403]
conquered Hannibal in battle, acting, so to speak, as1
his prosecutors, to assert good faith and
bring charges against him,2
they at length prevailed upon the senate to send an embassy to Carthage which should lay charges before their senate that Hannibal was conspiring with King Antiochus to foment war.
Three ambassadors were sent —Gnaeus Servilius, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, and Quintus Terentius Culleo. When they arrived in Carthage, on the advice of Hannibal's enemies, they caused the answer to be given to those who asked what their errand was, that they had come to put an end to
the disputes which had arisen between the Carthaginians and Masinissa, king of the Numidians.
This was generally accepted; but Hannibal did not fail to see that he and he alone was the object of the Romans' attack and that peace had been granted to the Carthaginians with the reservation that with him alone there should be implacable war.
So he decided to give way to the emergency and his fate; and having already made all his preparations in advance for his departure, he spent that day in the forum in order to avert suspicion and at dusk, clad in his ordinary dress, he made his way to the gate with two companions who were ignorant of his design.